Disclaimer: still not mine.
Severus Snape, Professor of Potions and Head of Slytherin House, sat in the Great Hall on the first day of term and looked out at the students, trying to judge what sort of year it would be. Some interesting little dramas promised to play out this year if the student enrolment list was any indication.
First Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, had showed up as a First Year. Most of the staff, Severus included, assumed that he would be home-schooled with private teachers, keeping him out of the limelight. They were wrong, as evidenced by last night's sorting. The boy had shown up with all the bright-eyed hope of a typical First Year.
Severus had watched him from the moment he had arrived. He was Lily's son. He had her eyes and her easy ways. He could see her in the way he moved, a hidden energy, a force waiting for freedom. He saw Harry and grieved again for his Lily of the green eyes.
He let his eyes leave Potter and move down to Neville Longbottom. Neville sat and fidgeted at the morning meal. He looked nothing like the fierce warriors his parents had been. Unlike Potter's parents, outright killed, Neville's parents slowly died. So slowly, they died that their bodies still breathed. Shut away for years in a ward of incurables, they were still feeling the pain of the Cruciatus curse.
Neville's mother still screamed on wintry nights when the snow pelted against the windows, and the wind howled around corners. Severus had played at potions, stronger than dreamless sleep, thinking to end her torture, started years ago. He searched for ingredients to add to strengthen the potions. He had given up in frustration, but still kept a note pad at the ready and jotted down ideas from time to time.
He let his eyes linger on his godson, Draco Malfoy. He was the son of one of the oldest families in the Wizard World. His father, Lucius Malfoy, had been one of Tom Riddle's lackeys in the first war. If the rumours were true, he would soon be again. Draco had his fathers silver blond hair and arrogant manner.
Severus had been the first to hold Draco. Lucius was with one of his whores and could not be bothered as his wife lay in labour. He was not to be bothered for two weeks more. He finally came home to collect his beautiful wife for one of Riddles required functions, and then Severus had watched part of her die. He wondered how witches did what Narcissa did, forgiving their wizards and then loving them again.
The owls came flying in to the Great Hall, delivering the day's mail. Severus put a hand over his tea without thinking. He had lost too many cups and plates of food from the ill-trained birds and sneered at them as they entered.
Today a small brown owl landed in front of the pensive Potions Professor. The owl pecked at his fingers looking for a treat. Severus at last tossed a bit of toast to the owl as it held up its leg. Severus reached out, untied the small piece of parchment, and began to unroll it as the owl flew off.
It was safe now to drink his tea, and checking it just to make sure, he lifted the cup to his mouth as his eyes scanned the missive. The writing was small, clear with well-defined letters. It looked vaguely familiar but at the same time out of place and alien at Hogwarts.
He broke the seal and scanned to the bottom to see the name of the sender. He stood up so suddenly his chair fell back. Without stopping to right it, he left the hall in a billow of robes not even stopping when the Headmaster called to him. He crushed the note and thrust it in his pocket. Muttering under his breath, he headed for the classroom to prepare for this first day of lessons.
He was angry. He was in no mood for silly first years bent on impressing teachers and homesick little girls sniffing on their sleeves and flaying their arms in the air for attention.
Class was still about 30 minutes away when Severus looked up and saw Albus walk into the classroom. He looked at the older wizard and sneered.
"Well, Severus, I see you are in your normal high spirits today," the headmaster said evenly. "And here I was, worried that you had received unwanted news."
"Unwanted news Albus? Why no, what ever gave you that idea?" Severus snarled at the meddlesome wizard.
"That bad?" Albus said, suddenly serious.
"Yes, Albus, I think so." Severus sat heavily in his chair and brought his fingers to the bridge of his nose. Wanting to get rid of the nosey man he told him, "Bonnie is coming."
"My, that is lovely. I have yet to meet the young lady." The headmaster beamed, grinning at Severus's discomfort. "It has been how long since you married? Fifteen years is it not?"
"I see no reason to be gleeful over this. I have not seen her for fourteen of those fifteen," Severus spat.
"If I remember correctly, you left after breakfast and had time to spare before taking your lunch," Albus said frowning. "I would not count that as a true visit. I do not think this arrangement would be easy on the young lady."
"As easy has it has been for me," Severus said with a sneer.
"Really? Yet the fidelity charm does not affect the wizard, only the witch." Albus looked at Severus sternly.
Severus knitted his brow together. He wondered if this were the reason, Bonnie was coming to see him. Perhaps she had met a wizard and wanted her freedom from him. He looked to Albus in question.
"She knows marriage is forever in our world, Albus," Severus said with some regret in his voice. "She was well educated in this before taking the vows."
"She was but fourteen, she was a child," Albus said lightly.
"I have not always been this age old man," he sneered. "I was but twenty-three years old and under orders from my other master. Remember that one Albus? The younger one?"
"Severus, I am truly sorry for this. At the time, we had no other choice. We had to protect your cover. You were just starting on this path," Albus said as he frowned at the wizard. "The times were different Severus. You know that."
"Different? Would you not force me now?" Severus stood and walked to the door, opening it, and standing aside.
"It is a terrible shame you must leave now Albus, however I have to get ready for class," he said flatly.
"I will arrange accommodations," Albus said as he left. "We will have an extra room connected to your chambers for her use."
"Yes, Albus, we must keep up appearances for the Dark Lord." Severus slammed the door shut on Albus. He was furious at the old wizard and at the fact that his privacy would soon be shattered. He was furious that she had chosen to come, that she had married him, and he was furious that he did not even know why.
Taking the missive from his pocket, he smoothed it out and read it again. She had to talk to him. She would arrive on Friday. Fine, he thought, After all this time she wants to talk. He looked up at the clock and saw it was almost time for his lessons to start. He replaced his anger with his Professor face, and stood straight. He would not show any emotion in front of a bunch of First Years intent on ruining his day.
After dinner in the Great Hall, he returned to the solitude of his rooms. He poured himself a drink, and started to replace the bottle, but changing his mind took whole thing with him. He knew this would be a long night.
Sitting and staring into the fireplace, he tried to picture her. He could remember the dress she had worn when they married, but he could not remember her face. He remembered her dirty blond hair and brown eyes. He remembered she was short and thin. He remembered her silence, barely talking and not eating at the reception.
He did not remember taking his leave of her that night.
He remembered Lucius taking him to the brothel because he refused to consummate the marriage with a child, and then his returning to Hogwarts. The next thing he remembered was flooing out to St. Mungo's. She was injured, and they needed information for her treatment and a husband's permission to heal the witch. He had not seen her. He only talked to the Healer and then he returned home for lunch. Still, he could not remember her face.
Finishing his third glass of firewhiskey, he walked to his desk and opened the bottom drawer. He removed a small cardboard box and took out the handful of pictures he had saved. There was one of her here. One that Narcissa had sent when she was in St Mungo's. He never questioned her about her timing. He had not been interested.
He found the picture and walked to the fireplace. Holding it to the light, he peered at his wife's face. He remembered seeing her for the first time…she'd just turned fourteen. The day before he married her had been her birthday. Even now, he preferred to think of her as a full fourteen. She stood next to Riddle and smiled at her soon to be husband. He remembered now, that her smile did not reach her eyes, and that her bottom lip looked swollen. That was why he remembered her brown eyes. They were the eyes that held him in fear.
Tom had pushed her forward and announced that she was to be his boon, given by Bella Lestrange. He could not remember why she had done this, and frowned, looking closer at the picture as if he could see the memory there. He remembered he had been drinking heavily that day. Bella then laughed, not the crazy laugh of madness yet, and pulled the girl out of the room to dress her for the wedding. He remembered the dress.
Bella had dressed her in a sheer white silken gown. It was backless, and tight, so very tight. One side of the skirt held a slit that went up to her hip, her leg riding out with every step. She wore nothing underneath. The bodice was cut low, so low that standing next to her he could see her nipples. She did not even have the cover of a bra.
He remembered that the dress had sickened him. He had coughed, to quell the vomit rising in his throat. He could not look at her after seeing her, forced to wear the dress. Remembering her dress, he threw the picture in the fire and watched as the embers heated it to flame.